Back to basics: The best social media tools and client networking platforms Article added by Amy McIlwain on June 24, 2011
Amy McIlwain

Amy McIlwain

Denver, CO

Joined: August 26, 2010

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A social media tool is essentially a support system for social networking platforms. Such examples include network aggregators, management systems and friend followers. But which ones should you use?

When it comes to social media tools and platforms, it’s hard to know where to start. There are thousands of social networking sites out there to assist you in your social media strategy, each one with its own purpose.

The difficulty is knowing which sites are legitimate platforms that will help you in your social media business venture, cultivating such business goals as prospecting new client relations, gaining referrals, building upon existing client relations, increasing sales, creating brand awareness, online reputation management, recruiting, learning about new technologies and competitors, and generating leads to intercept potential prospects.

Before we delve into the big players in the social media game, let’s discuss the difference between a social networking service and a social media tool.

A social networking service and a social media tool each serve a distinct purpose. A social networking service is an online service, platform or site that focuses on the building and reflecting of social networks or social relations. A social network service typically consists of a representation of each user (a profile), social links and a variety of additional services, and acts as a digital community where users share ideas, activities, events, and interests within their individual networks.

A social media tool is essentially a support system for social networking platforms. Such examples include network aggregators, management systems and friend followers. They are time-saving, efficient and a great addition to an individual’s social media strategy. But which ones should you use? While there are myriad social networking services and tools, I’ve broken down the field into the top three in each category, detailing the main purposes they serve and how they can benefit your social media strategy.

Social networking services

LinkedIn

The proliferation of LinkedIn as a professional resource for individuals and businesses to connect and expand their social networks has lead the top professional networking site to grow exponentially (by 100 percent) in the past year. LinkedIn is the place to go if you’re looking to network with other top professionals in your field, generate leads to intercept potential prospects and build upon existing client relations. It’s also a great place to share your expertise and position yourself as the expert in your field.

Here are several more reasons LinkedIn is becoming wildly popular in the business world: LinkedIn can help you bring in more money and job opportunities, keep in touch with industry leaders and other professionals, request and display professional recommendations, utilize an online resume, stand as an offshoot of your website, and the ability to use a photo makes you and your business recognizable.
Facebook

Before you make any predisposed opinions about the reputation of Facebook, I’d like to point out the strong business trend that Facebook has been making in the past year. Facebook is no longer just a personal networking site. With the proliferation of fan pages came the explosion of businesses using Facebook to their advantage. Facebook fan pages have given organizations the ability to create an online community representing their brand, its values and mission.

Organizations can import company information, products and services, photos and videos, and numerous applications to add to the page’s allure. The bread and butter of a Facebook fan page is its newsfeed, where the organization and fans can post updates, links, events, discussions and more to engage users.

The real kicker of Facebook is its ability to go viral extremely fast. News, discussions, links and photos can circulate across the Facebook grid with the ease of the “share” button, allowing businesses to expose their brand with the simple click of the “like” button.

Twitter

Even more than Facebook, Twitter’s ability to circulate information quickly is a bit of an understatement. The best way to view your company’s engagement with Twitter is presenting yourself as a content DJ. With a 140-character limit and a different audience at all times, it’s crucial that you use Twitter to post attention-getting and engaging content. It’s also key that you stay engaged with your followers and continue to put out great information. Twitter can be a great prospecting tool for generating leads; the combination of a diverse audience with a quick circulation rate can expose your content to new connections and different networks.

Social media yools

  • Hootsuite

    As one of the leading social network aggregation software out there, Hootsuite acts as traffic control system for most of your social networks. Once you’ve imported your social network profiles into Hootsuite, such as your LinkedIn account, Facebook fan page and Twitter handle, you can send posts out to all your networks from one source. You can also set up bulk posts into the future. What’s more, Hootsuite allows you to set up RSS feeds to individual accounts with varied settings.

    Social network aggregation tools are not only efficient, but can save you and your business valuable time.

  • Arkovi

    Created by financial services professionals, Arkovi is a social media archiving tool that records and files social content for your use.

    When certain content is posted from social networking sites like Facebook or LinkedIn, Arkovi archives your users' content and then filters and exports it to your third party collection service. Why is this important to you and your business? Monitoring the content of you and your connections is crucial to the successful management and exposure of your brand. Not only does Arkovi have powerful tools for search, reporting and exportation of your content, but it is also in compliance with FINRA and SEC regulations for record keeping of electronic communications.

  • WordPress

    There are quite a few blog-hosting sites in cyberspace, but none compares to the great features that WordPress has. Whether you are an individual or a business looking to host a blog, WordPress is easy to use, easy to understand, and simply easy to execute. It is also customized as a content management system, and includes such features as a plug-in architecture, template system, integrated link management, a search engine-friendly, clean permalink structure, the ability to assign nested, multiple categories to articles, and support for tagging of posts and articles. WordPress is the perfect blog tool and platform publisher for novices and experts alike.
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